I’m sitting here looking through my Drive files, and I ran across some pictures of my 4th grade math classroom and all of our flex seating. I love having a variety of flex seating for my students to choose from, and so do they! As a matter of fact, I wish I had made the transition much sooner.
What is flex seating?
Flexible seating, aka flex seating, is a classroom practice of providing your students with seating options other than the traditional student desk. Flex seating looks different in every classroom. In fact, teachers can include as many options or as few options as they want to. Flex seating is truly about choice!
Check out this list of 10 popular flex seating choice to include in your classroom:
- a comfy classroom rug
- wobble stools
- stability cushions
- bar stools
- low tables
- refinished dinette sets
- beanbag chairs
- exercise balls
- yoga / exercise mats
- surf desks
Classroom Rugs are Fantastic for Flexing!
The front of my classroom is one of the students’ favorite spaces. We gather on the carpet for whole group discussions, number talks, and other conversations. The carpet came from Amazon through a grant on Donors Choose! The students also love to go there when they were finished with classwork to play games or complete challenges for early finishers.
My crafty hubby built the low bookshelf underneath my ActivBoard and white board. He’s so talented! I had tried to get my hands on one for a couple of years from teachers who were retiring or transferring schools. You’d have thought those shelves were made of gold with the number of teachers who wanted them! He finally gave in and built one for me!
Wobble Stools Flex Seating Station
Over by the bulletin board, is our wobble station. These wobble stools also came from Amazon through a grant on Donors Choose. If you’re a public school teacher and haven’t looked into this awesome program, you should really check it out! The wobble stools are placed on a foam square of exercise mat that I found online at Walmart. I tried bathmats one year, and they just didn’t hold up to the constant scrubbing of the wobble stools. I should also mention that the barrier is most definitely needed between the wobble stool and the tile, otherwise the stool leaves a nasty looking spot on the tile finish because of the dirt that gets tracked into the room.
Low Table Seating Option
In the right foreground is our square coffee table I snagged at a storage unit auction for cheap! At this seating area, students sit on yoga balance cushions. They’re supposed to help improve posture. For some students, this is not their first choice of seating. If a student cannot sit comfortably here for a class period, I allow them to sit at the teacher-table right next to the low table. When I start pulling kids for tear-out differentiation or it’s time for math flex groups, the students seated at my table simply go find another seat. It’s not a big deal at all.
Flex Seating with Wobble Cushions
Just below is a better view of the wobble cushion station. Also, in this picture is my teacher table where we have small-group lessons during differentiated math rotations. Under the table are stools from… yep, you guessed it!… Amazon! It’s beginning to sound like I may have a little Amazon addiction! Some were through a grant and others I purchased because we love them so much!
Hi-Top Bar Stools for Flex
In the very back of the classroom you’ll see a pair of stools given to be by a dear friend and now retired teacher. My kids LOVE sitting there, especially when they’re doing a Flipgrid video assignment. I don’t quite know why that is such a coveted spot for recording videos… LOL!
Flex Seating Tips
One tip I’d like to share is to go ahead and buy a set of exercise mats. You know, the kind that interlock and heavy exercise equipment sits on. These come in handy for the low table with wobble cushions. It helps to define the seating space for the students. Defining the seating area helps prevent them from sprawling out all over the floor.
These mats are also needed to go under the Wobble stools. I learned the hard way the damage a little playground sand could do on the waxed tile floor when you put a first grader on a wobble stool! With even as little as the little learners weigh, the wobble stools would grind the stray playground sand into the wax on the tile and leave a nasty mark until the floor was re-waxed over the summer.
And, I do recommend the foam mats over anything else. I thought that I was being smart the next year with the wobble stools, and I went and bought little $5 bath rugs to put under the stools. Well, they did prevent the wax from being ruined by the wobbling of the wobble stools, but they collected ALL OF THE DIRT!
Using an Old Kitchen Table
Here you get a glimpse of a kitchen table for student seating and another teacher table. For many years I have had ESOL teachers push in, or inclusion teachers, or even student teachers… all of whom needed their own work space. This works beautifully as we can both be teaching a small group of students. With the other teacher table completely across the room, our voices aren’t in competition. I have more of those same stools from Amazon at this table. They’re so light-weight and versatile. They’re all over my classroom!
On another note, one of the biggest #teacherhacks I’ve stumbled upon is using those black pocket charts on my classroom bulletin boards. I use them to hold my math and science vocabulary cards as the interactive focus walls are built during our lessons. Take my word, this is so much more convenient than trying to staple or pin word cards up!
Flex Seating with Flexible Bungee Band Chairs
Back to the front of the room for this last seating option! These are the most highly sought after seats during any point of the day. These “rubber band chairs” came from a yard sale I happened upon one bright and sunny Saturday morning. They were only $5 each! Can you believe it? They’re so cool!
All of these pictures are actually from the beginning of last school year. As the year went on, my class received more flex seating through another grant on Donors Choose. I’ll try to hunt up some pictures of the surf desks and bouncy balls to add!
Flex Seating Update!
While this isn’t the best picture in the world to showcase flex seating, it is a picture of one of our exercise “bouncy” balls. We had four of these to use at the long counter on one side of our classroom. You can’t see it, but in this picture the kids are gathered around during math flex groups playing a headband vocabulary game.